Clifton Brown, BaltimoreRavens.com
“It’s the hand that we’ve been dealt,” Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald said. “We’ve got to take it head on and we’re rolling. If you have a different approach, all you’re doing is wasting time.
“It’s an opportunity to give a shoutout to Marlon and things that he’s done for our defense and our team. You’re talking about a guy that’s been here in the offseason, has taken on a leadership role, he’s out there every day, practices extremely hard, he practices the right way. We’ll miss him absolutely, but we do have good players in our back end. The expectation is to come in and produce and execute and play the way that we play.”
“With Kyle, it’s a function of how much we want to move him around on a per-play basis,” Macdonald said. “It’s not easy going from one position to another. Whoever fills in for his role – if and when we do move him – that’s something else that we’re considering. So, it’s not just Kyle that we’re considering when you talk about moving him.”
Geno Stone and Daryl Worley are experienced safeties who can step in if Hamilton slides into the slot, and Stephens can play both safety and cornerback. The versatility of Baltimore’s secondary gives Macdonald plenty of options.
“I’m sure they’ll be pieces moving between now and when we kick off,” Macdonald said. “I think right now we’re just trying to figure out where to put all the spots. It will come into clear focus as the season approaches.”
Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic
There are a few things defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald might be able to do to temporarily cover for the lack of cornerback depth. One of those things is moving safety Kyle Hamilton into the nickel role in certain looks and inserting Geno Stone at safety. Macdonald could also move around Brandon Stephens, who can play safety and both boundary and slot cornerback. Macdonald also may have to call the game more aggressively, so the cornerbacks won’t have to cover as long.
It, however, still feels like the onus is on general manager Eric DeCosta to get the Ravens cornerback help, and that’s the hard part. Because, as Harbaugh pointed out, if you’re a good cornerback and healthy and in shape, you’re almost certainly not looking for work in mid-August.
DeCosta will likely have to make a trade if the Ravens are going to find an outside cornerback who is a significant upgrade to what they already have. The challenge is the demand for quality cornerbacks far exceeds the supply. There are teams with cornerback depth. The Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore’s opponent in the preseason opener, come to mind. But most teams with cornerback depth want to hold on to it, because of the volatility at the position.
Because of all that, the cost of acquiring a quality cornerback will likely be steep. The Ravens typically don’t act desperate in situations like this. But DeCosta may not have a choice. The Ravens are a team built to win now and have very few roster holes. Cornerback was already a question before Humphrey went down.
Now? The need is dire. Humphrey was the non-quarterback the Ravens could least afford to lose, and he’ll suddenly be on the sideline for the foreseeable future.
Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner
Since 2019, according to TruMedia, the Ravens have averaged 0.05 expected points added per defensive play with Humphrey on the field, which would be No. 7 overall in the NFL in that span. Without him, they’ve averaged minus-0.08 EPA per play. That would rank 30th.
The Ravens’ pass defense never hinged on Humphrey’s availability. Nor will it hinge on the ability of his replacement. The best medicine for Macdonald’s unit hasn’t changed much, if at all: Stop the run. Harass the passer. Force turnovers.
With the return of Michael Pierce and the growth of Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington and Travis Jones, the Ravens should have one of the NFL’s stoutest defensive lines. Opponents last season averaged just 1.2 yards before contact on carries last season, according to TruMedia, the NFL’s fourth-lowest mark. After Smith’s arrival in Week 9, the Ravens had the league’s third-most efficient run defense, according to Football Outsiders. The better they can stop the run, the better their margin for error in the secondary will be.
An improved pass rush will help there, too. The Ravens ranked 25th in pressure rate last season, according to Pro Football Reference. Explosive plays were another problem area. Outside linebackers Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo, along with the still-rehabilitating Tyus Bowser, are being counted on to collapse pockets and disrupt drop-backs. The fewer resources the Ravens allocate to their pass rush, the more they can devote to their secondary.
Best NFL team fits for notable remaining free agents: Kareem Hunt to Saints? Robbie Gould to Cowboys?
Kevin Patra, NFL.com
OLB · Age: 32
The Ravens’ defense got bulldozed by the Eagles in the first preseason game — 271 first-half yards allowed — highlighting the unit’s lack of depth. Second-year linebacker David Ojabo had an up-and-down performance, unable to keep the edge on one third-and-long QB run. Baltimore adding a versatile, savvy veteran like Van Noy would immediately help the group. The 32-year-old still has juice in his legs and is an intelligent defender who would fit well in Mike Macdonald’s scheme. The Ravens could also look to add a more traditional pass rusher like Carlos Dunlap or Robert Quinn.
One thing to watch in each game of preseason Week 2: Bucs QB battle, surprising Chiefs WR take center stage
Jeff Kerr, CBS Sports
Ravens: Zay Flowers didn’t have a catch in the preseason opener, yet the rookie wideout made an impact on the game — drawing two pass interference penalties on a potent Eagles secondary. Flowers should play a bit this week with the joint practices, as he’ll get the opportunity to catch passes from Tyler Huntley in a game for the first time.